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  Friday, December 05, 2003

  The power of loose ends (3) or the weakness of weblogs when it comes to joint actions

To continue The power of visible loose ends (1) and (2).

Gary Lawrence Murphy, comments:

In most cases, the necessity comes first, and that's when we will overcome all barriers to make it happen. When someone has a specific goal, especially a paid goal, others can clear their date-books and engage, and any frustrations of distance or bandwidth vanish proportional to the value of the collaboration [...].

But in all cases, we don't create the team and then see what happens (Andy Warhol excepted) but we find the purpose and then staff a solution. It's my observation that, by being the wide-sweep distant-early-warning radar, the skin of humanity, blogspace is spontaneously very good at identifying each itch, and from that point, coordinating the hands to scratch it is almost trivial.

Thus I don't agree that we need to be "writing about future plans" as our starting point. What we need is an articulation of the goal state, the concrete world scenario that describes the itch scratched, what it would look like when done, and from that visioneering the scratching will begin. This is what happened with the blog-spam problem, the trackback problem, even the RSS vs Atom debate is all from bloggers having touched some problem, articulated the itch, and spread fragments of plans to scratch it until it gelled.

Ton Zijlstra, continues:

I think the writing about future plans, especially if they're pretty concrete like Lilias possible conference calendar, can join up with coordinating the hand to scratch an earlier identified itch easily. Probably some or all of your plans are connected to identified itches, announcing them makes it possible to get other bloggers to go along for the ride.

And another, independent stream. Julian Elve, Actionable Knowledge (see comments as well, coming to "safe places in the middle" point):

After I'd let these posts mull around in my mind for a day or two, the first thought that came to me was this - just because I don't neccessarily blog about actions I have taken as a result of blog-inspired knowledge creation, that doesn't mean there wasn't actionable knowledge created!

[...]But just because I blog carefully (or not at all) about those areas of my life does not mean that I don't derive actionable knowledge from blogging that I can apply to those domains. The dilemma though is how to report that back? Some actions won't make it through my blog-filters; others may be delayed or distorted; in either case there is a break in the learning cycle with my blog learning colleagues.

This is not about the trust I have in the people with whom I have blogosphere conversations, it is more about who else is eavesdropping. Is there any way to resolve this whilst still using an open channel? I'm not convinced there is - the contradiction we need to resolve is that a completely public channel will inevitably cause us to filter what we write, whilst part of the power of the blogosphere is the opportunity to discuss ideas with people from very different contexts.

I guess this conversation (and especially it's hidden part) is a good example of tensions between "thinking together" and "doing together" as well as tensions between private and shared. To give you a feeling of the hidden part: some of the invisible activities related to this conversation (hope nobody gets angry about the disclosure):

So I guess it's possible to get something actionable from our weblog connections, but weblogs are not the best instrument for it :) 

I wonder why do we make choices for other tools as "actionable" spaces. Is it because their support for collaboration is better? Or - do we need more privacy than we can get in our weblogs? Or may be we just don't know a good way to use weblogs to come up with joint actions?

This post also appears on channel weblog research

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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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